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Air Qual Atmos Health. 2013 Dec;6(4):759-767.

Use of Free-standing Filters in an Asthma Intervention Study.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
  • 2College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 51503, USA.
  • 3School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA ; School of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
  • 4Community Health and Social Services, Detroit, MI USA.
  • 5Friends of Parkside, Detroit, MI USA.


This study characterizes the use of HEPA air filters provided to 89 households participating in an intervention study investigating the respiratory health of children with asthma. Freestanding filters were placed in the child's bedroom and monitored continuously for nearly a year in each household. Filter use was significantly affected by study phase, season and monitoring week. During the "intensive" weeks when a community education worker and a field technician visited the household, the use rate averaged 70±33%. During season-long "non-intensive" periods between seasonal visits, use dropped to 34±30%. Filter use rapidly decreased during the 3 to 4 weeks following each intensive, was slightly higher in spring, summer, and in the evening and at night when the child was likely to be home, although households did not follow consistent diurnal patterns. While participants expressed an understanding of the benefits of filter use and reported good experiences with them, use rates were low, particularly during unobserved non-intensive periods. The provision of freestanding air filters to individuals or households must be considered an active intervention that requires monitoring and evaluation, otherwise unknown and unexpected patterns of filter use may alter and possibly bias results due to exposure misclassification.


Air quality; HEPA; behavior; exposure misclassification; indoor environment; intervention

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